NCN 2019–Days 27-30

IMG_20171125_071335337Well, it’s here! We’re right at the end of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2019. This will be my last post for the month because I am choosing to celebrate Thanksgiving and LIFE with people who hold the biggest part of my heart. I pray that your days will be spent in much the same way. I pray that they are GOOD DAYS and, even if they are less than you’d like them to be, that you will choose to make the most of them.

I have been truly honored to share this month with you and I’ll be looking forward to seeing how well we all do carrying the lessons we learned into December and beyond. Despite all of the faults we hear so loudly proclaimed, God has given us a good world and plenty of opportunities to make the difficult places better simply by choosing to respond in positive and healing ways.

We will be people of influence…no matter what responses we choose. I hope we all choose the best ones.

Thanks for joining me this month! May God be praised by your life, your witness to the world, and your choices to make life better for those around you!

Remember: you can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2019–Day 26

Today is a beloved cousin’s birthday AND her wedding anniversary, as well! I remember picking roses from the bush in front of my Mississippi house and being ever so grateful that God had given us so many to decorate her wedding cake–after all, it was right on Thanksgiving Day that year! I also remember how we had so much food prepared for her reception and the family Thanksgiving celebration that the roses ended up being stored outside overnight in the cars…where the water in ALL of the vases froze absolutely solid. 

IMG_20181130_071351806_HDRIt was quite a sight and quite a shock! We weren’t expecting that. We didn’t let it change the wedding plans or have a major affect on the wedding festivities, though. We just laughed, cut the blooms off, and left the stems in the frozen water! Her cake was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I still think about it every time I pass by similar blooms here at my current Georgia home.

I picked those bushes on purpose once I got settled here. They’re my favorite…and what could have made us upset that day, just made us laugh and turned into one of our favorite family memories.

Whether its a Tuesday or a holiday, we get to choose how we react to what happens. We get to decide. Sometimes we do that really well. Other times, we realize later, we should have taken more time before we pronounced our judgments or relayed our responses.

That’s one of the most important lessons I hope we learn from NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: the rush to respond rarely leaves us with a good memory or leaves others with a good impression. Once we become determined not to complain, it automatically makes our brains become wired to look for solutions instead of becoming bogged down in the challenges. It doesn’t stop the challenges, it just changes the way we view them! They can then become adventures, funny stories, opportunities for growth, and a chance to bless those around us by illustrating creative problem-solving and a choice to add to the number of blessings we share with the world and the ones we love in it.

It’s a pretty good opportunity to share the goodness of our God, as well.

It’s a choice. Are you willing to keep making the right ones?

Remember: you can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

Grace and Peace! (and Happy Birthday and Anniversary, dear Cousins!)

NCN 2019–Day 19

Have you found your purpose yet? Do you know who you were created to be? These are some big questions. The answers can be even bigger. IF you’re still not sure at this point, maybe this verse can help you clarify some things.

“For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of God.” Galatians 1:10 (CSB)

This little gem just arrived in my email and I think it came just in time. There’s nothing wrong with making other people happy. In fact, I think we’re actually supposed to care about others in ways that make their lives better. Doing so will, quite naturally, help us to feel at least a little bit happier about our own.

The problems come when we make the happiness of others a higher priority than making sure that we’ve first been pleasing to GOD. Being God’s servant doesn’t mean living a life of unrelenting, punishing service. It WILL mean that we’ll be called to do some things that we’re not always comfortable doing, but AS WE DO THEM God generally comes alongside us and brings His sweet peace and joy and, before we know it, we’re feeling better and being grateful for some of the very things that made us wonder if He really knew who He was asking to do them in the first place! (grin)

And what, exactly, does this all have to do with NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER? It’s a reminder that when we live in a way that is consistent with our calling we won’t have as much time (or the desire!) to complain. Consistency in living out our purpose. That’s the key. It is the very fitting definition for our “progress, not perfection” theme this year.

Yes, we all get out of alignment with our calling from time to time, but if we look closely enough when that happens, we’ll see that we’re trying to please people instead of trying to please God. Don’t take my word for it! Take HIS:

“When a person’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7 (CSB)

Sounds like another great way to eliminate some complaining to me! Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you. The peace with others may take a little time to get here, but the peace between you and God (Who is really in charge of everything!) will be immediate and healing while you wait on those around you to catch up and find who THEY were created to be, as well.

Did you need to see this today? Maybe someone you know does, too! Spread the peace! Share the Word! Reap the rewards of pleasing God.

Remember: You can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

 

NCN 2019–Day 18

Honesty alert! I’ve been tearing up my house looking for something that’s important to me. For some reason–and I cannot imagine the WHY of this–I failed to put this thing back where it belonged. That’s almost unheard of for me about this particular object. Consequently, I have to report that I would give myself a failing grade on NCN over the last 12 hours or so…and some of that was sleep time! (ha!)

Ever done that? Misplaced something? Failed at something you usually do well? Well. All I can say is that I hope you are calmer and more gracious than I have felt about this. I am much more likely to be the one who finds things than the one who loses them. I typically put things back where they “live” when I’m finished–and typing this sentence actually made me laugh because it reminds me of my sister.

When I first moved to Atlanta after grad school I didn’t have very much. It was easy to find things because there wasn’t a lot of competition for space in my apartment! I found that I really liked that, so as I began to acquire things, I opted for choosing defined homes for my stuff. My sister visited and commented about how nice everything looked. Several months later, she came back, walked in, looked around, and said, “Everything is in EXACTLY the same place. This is a sickness.” HA!

That’s the way it goes, isn’t it?! What seems right to someone also seems strange to someone else! HOW WONDERFUL is that?! We are NOT all the same! No clones, No carbon copies, NO BOREDOM because there is this gorgeously and divinely planned patchwork of crazy-quilt people in the our world! GOD has made us different ON PURPOSE–and at least part of that, I am convinced, is so that we can see and get to know a little bit of HIM in every person we meet.

We get to choose how we react about that, you know? We can choose to celebrate the differences and look for ways to see them as strengths–because they ARE for the other person who lives a different life than the one life we live. We can choose to look for the good–and GOD–instead of starting to complain or rush right to frustration over all of the ways someone else does it “wrong.”

This is not a plea for political correctness. It is not a call for allowing chaos. It is most especially not a promotion of the idea that we’re all somehow nebulously “Divine” or a rejection of the God we learn about in Scripture. It IS, instead, a call for greater harmony as we look past our differences and annoyances to seek out ways we can encourage the strength and the blessing of those around us this week.

Heading into the holiday season can up the ante on schedules and attitudes as we gather with those we don’t see very often and spend more time in “confined spaces” with those we do, but it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. We can CHOOSE our responses to our differences! Let’s make better choices this year! Who knows what our encouragement can help others achieve?

Remember: you can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

Grace and Peace!

 

NCN 2019–Day 11

Happy Monday and Happy Veteran’s Day!!

It’s been quite the weekend for us. We got our new-to-us vehicle checked out (a wayward deer took out our old faithful Blue a few weeks ago…may she rest in peace), we took some time off to do something that fed our artistic souls, and we watched some football that wasn’t on the DVR! Both of our teams lost and, to be perfectly honest, I did a personal suspension of NCN during the Alabama game, but other than that, it was an amazing weekend.

We did simple things that fed our spirits and we laughed and we talked and we REVELED in the luxury of it all.

I realize that may sound way too simple for some people, but our schedules have been so consumed with family, travel, health issues, and finding a new vehicle that our weekend filled with football and art was truly a treat. We kept talking about how luxurious it felt to not be on the road or in a medical setting or in the middle of a family medical crisis. It’s the simple things that bring the best blessings sometimes. We just have to stop complaining about things and start celebrating how very blessed we are!

Today, here in the United States, we celebrate our veterans. For those who have volunteered to stand in the path of what would cause us harm and shoulder the burdens of protecting a nation…the celebration ought to be more than just one day, right? They are the ones who make doing our simple schedules possible.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”

– John F. Kennedy in his 1963 Thanksgiving proclamation

In their honor, I’d like to propose a challenge for the week: Let’s honor those who serve us so well by living out our appreciation! Who can YOU serve and Whose life can YOU make easier to just do the simple things this week? Go beyond NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER and choose to be a blessing to someone near you. There’s no limit to what good we can do if we try and I’d love to hear what you come up with to bless others, so feel free to let me know–even if you keep it a secret from the ones you choose to bless!

What simple thing will you choose to celebrate today and what simple thing will you choose to share so that others can be blessed, as well? Who will you serve? Let’s have some fun with this!

Remember: You can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2019–Day 7

If you’re going to hit a goal, you better set a mark for it. Sounds simple enough, right? But…how do you know if you’ve set your mark where you need to? That’s something to consider.

I’ve been thinking about it as I’ve been reading and studying James lately. I thought it might be just the thing to help motivate me during NCN this year. OUR goal for this NCN-project is relatively simple in the setting–and a lot more difficult in the doing. We are attempting to go without complaining for an entire month.

Right off the bat, James made me wonder if my bar was set too low.

“…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4

Count it all joy,” he says.

Well. Don’t just NOT complain about it, but look for the joy in it when things don’t go your way, he says. Get ready to get better and then go beyond better to “perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” 

This quick note of “encouragement”/lesson in setting goals is brought to you by GOD and the Apostle James for those of us who still haven’t made it through every day of this first week of NCN without complaining yet. (grin) NOW, this doesn’t seem quite as much of a workout, right? Just kidding. Like anything worth doing, NCN requires plenty of effort. (for me, at least!) We all need to start somewhere. If we’re going to hit our mark and reach the goal of NCN, let’s aim for the stars while we’re not complaining! Who knows? Maybe we’ll find our way toward joy in the process.

I’m praying that’s the case for each of us! Focus on smiling and finding joy today as you work without complaining.

Reminder: You can do this! For now, think:  PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

Grace and Peace!

I decided…and you can, too.

IMG_20190906_092212433I woke up late (at 6:15A 🙄) this morning and found that my wonderful husband had packed his own lunch and gone on to work without a single complaint. His simple act of grace was much appreciated and such a blessing that I DECIDED that I would fill my day with his example. As I walked my way through my prayer list this morning and worked around the yard, I’ve been determined to make this a day when I simply gave God praise for the blessings of life.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve got to tell you that I almost didn’t make it through my prayer list. I almost slipped up and asked for something! (EEEEK!) I’m kidding of course–about the eeeek! I know that God doesn’t mind our asking for things, but my goal for the day is to just tell Him “thank you!”…so…I had to revise a couple of things as I went through my list.

For the family God placed me in and continues to bless me with, I thanked Him for His watch-care and the privilege of a Godly heritage, for strong and healthy nephews, and the gift of actually LIKING my family members. I know that is a gift many cannot claim.

For the friends who encourage my heart and keep me accountable, I praised Him for His personal touch through their counsel and told Him how glad I was for those who know Him and reflect Him in my daily life.

For the ones who have survived and and are still facing hard things, I gave God praise for the strength I see in them because I know it comes from Him.

For those dealing with difficult health issues, I gave thanks that God is our Healer and our Provider.

For the ones with difficult family issues, I told God how wonderful it was to see them love even when it is hard to do so and how proud I am that they haven’t given up when so many others would.

For the ones who have just faced the physical storms and are now facing the aftermath and cleanup from Dorian, I thanked Him for their personal safety.

For those who, like us, are dealing with the heartbreak of dementia within the minds of loved ones, I gave Him praise that we can still lift each other up and encourage each other in our shared experiences. I have become grateful that I can pray for them (for US!) with new understanding.

For the one who has just lost her father, I gave God praise for his legacy and the beautiful picture she posted of the last time they laughed together.

Along the way, I met a new-to-me neighbor, trimmed back some shrubbery and a couple of rosebushes while I thanked Him for the delightful scent of the roses and for places along the stems that aren’t covered in thorns. I also managed to liberate a VERY green frog who had gotten trapped in my rain barrel and I expressed my gratitude for clean water and the luxury of sharing it with plants in need. I found limbs that needed pruning and gave thanks for the right tools to use and the ability to drag the detritus to the fire pit out back.

IMG_20190906_102932890_HDRAs I finished my yard work and made my way to the porch, my phone rang and I rejoiced to have time for a conversation with my brother, whose great joy in getting to cut hay on his birthday made me laugh. I sat on a small pew on my porch, read through some of David’s songs of praise and allowed the wonder of having a hallowed place of my own to sweep over my spirit. I was reminded that I have a hand in MAKING a hallowed place anywhere I DECIDE to give God praise and enjoy the blessings He has provided. We are unusually blessed–and when we decide to think about it, celebrate it, and share those blessings with others around us, we can help them remember that they are, as well.

I hope you remember that and celebrate your blessings today. Feel free to share them with me so I can tell God “thank you!” on your behalf, too!

Grace and peace!